Super simple Smartipi Ground Station

By no means is my Ground Station as elegant as the AIO’s with integrated gimbals etc. But i wanted to show it nonetheless. I was using a haphazardly connected mess of wires and boards for too long, nearly destroying a Raspberry by short-circuiting it on the PSU.

So I wanted to do better and make it robust and portable. Also, even though i have no intentions of breaking any records, I wanted good reception. I had an original SmartiPi case laying around with the Raspberry Pi 7" Official Touchscreen. The backend of that case was rather low profile, but after some looking around i found out there was a new version with an optional ‘fat’ rear end (say it with me: ‘I like big butts and i cannot lie…’). So I ordered one and promptly left it sitting on the shelf for months.

Since I have been more active in the project again lately it also forced me to finish this job, it turned out super easy and might actually help someone else. What I did was simple:

  1. Find an old USB 2.0 HUB
  2. Destroy the casing to get the PCB
  3. Disconnect the +5V power coming from the PC end in the cable
  4. Connect +5V directly to +5V out from ESC
  5. Connect GND to GND from ESC
  6. Connect GND and +5V to JST connector also
  7. Plug JST connector into Raspberry Pi GPIO header for power
  8. Remove said JST header again and splice in extra +5V and GND for Touchscreen
  9. Assemble SmartiPi case without backend attached
  10. Insert Raspberry Pi into SmartiPi case
  11. Get the Touchscreen hooked up with DSI
  12. Remove Raspberry Pi from case again because i forgot SD card (cannot use SD extender with this case unfortunately)
  13. Firmly attach Raspberry Pi in SmartiPi case
  14. Take Dremel and molest the SmartiPi backend for XT60 connector, antenna through holes and cooling fan
  15. Glue in support frames for Taobao cards
  16. Cram the USB hub and ESC in there as well
  17. Solder the ESC to the XT60
    18, Connect USB hub to Raspberry Pi
  18. Connect Antenna connectors to Taobao cards
  19. Close SmartiPi cover and secure with screws
  20. Attach Antennas
  21. Attach LiPo
  22. Stare in amazement as everything works the first time…

Honestly, it is quite easy to do, I’m sure I could have done a nicer job, but the Dremel and I had a small disagreement which I lost. The Ground station is portable, allows the connection of up to three additional USB devices (joysticks, USB Memory sticks, whatever). The screen is poorly visible in direct sunlight, so I will create a hood for it sometime soon.

And some pictures:


Compact and easy to build!

Those are Taobao cards? How much range do you get?

Yes they are Taobao cards, i have not yet tested the max range. I will attempt to do so with these ‘stock’ antennas and some directional antennas as well. Generally the Taobao cards are considered some of the most powerful 5,8 GHz cards available.

Is the 5GHz limitation a problem? Most adapters use diversity like the AC56